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How to successfully present a new idea

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Matt Darvill Blog, Presentations, Work...

So you’ve got a great new idea for your business, one that you know will revolutionise the way you and your company works. Getting your message across clearly is crucial, and the strength of your pitch is often the deciding factor as to whether your initiative gathers momentum and support.

Change can be a difficult thing to convince people to adopt; particularly if there is nothing overtly wrong with the way people are working at the moment. So to give your pitch the best possible chance, we’ve prepared some advice below to guide you through.

Get some Feedback

With your first draft in hand, ask colleagues for some balanced feedback, to allow you to pivot and change aspects of the pitch before the main presentation. It’s important to ask a variety of people, to gather a range of opinions and advice, exactly the same principle as a focus group. This spectrum of advice should initially help you to decide if the idea is worth pursuing any further. If you decide that it is, then see if there are any patterns or consistent messages to address.

Remember that it’s unlikely that everyone will be overwhelmingly positive, so don’t let a minority of comments dissuade you from progressing. Use the advice as purely honest feedback, which will help steer you in the right direction.

Clearly define the benefits and purpose

Make the advantages as clear and as concise as possible. The goal is to arm the people you are presenting to with enough knowledge to inform them, but not to overload them with detail. Ensure that your pitch makes these immediately obvious to whoever you are presenting to, and garner interest from the decision-makers.

So ensure that the first 30 seconds or so succinctly explain the goal and why it’s a necessary step. Use facts throughout these initial statements, as assumptions can be pulled apart easily, particularly if the person on the other side of the desk will take some persuading. If you have early estimations of budgets and timeframes, then make reference to them here as well, as transparency will only increase the likelihood of support. Be aware that the idea may have a big impact on existing teams, demonstrate how everyone will be incorporated equally to minimise the initial impact.

Present to your direct manager

This is a good idea in any case, as it is often procedure within companies to go through the chain of command and not leave anyone out of the loop. This can be done informally, at lunch or during a 1:1 meeting. This will be a casual discussion to gauge the appetite and potential interest in your plan more generally.

Alternatively, it may be more suitable to schedule a more formal presentation to your manager and colleagues. Allow time for questions and use this as the time to tweak and change the plan. When presenting to your manager, ensure you demonstrate where it aligns with their personal goals and targets, as well as those of the company.

If the end result is that you do get approval for your proposal, then you’ll need the initial steps of an action plan prepared. It’s worth explaining what this is likely to be, so the panel can establish the wider effect of the idea.

So if you’ve got a big presentation coming up, hopefully you found some of this advice useful. Approach it with confidence that your idea is good enough to present in the first place. We’ve also gone through some presentation tips in the past, which you can find here.